This week a new photo was released from JWST – the space telescope that was launched less than a year ago.
Lo and behold. A beautiful photo of The Pillars Of Creation, a huge structure of dust and gas located in the Eagle Nebula 6000 light-years away from us. The pillars themselves are almost 10 light-years long. The small shiny dots in the photo are stars, and they can give a sense of the scale here.
What Are The Pillars Made Of?
These enormous formations are made of cold molecular hydrogen and cosmic dust. The dust reveals itself as dark regions in the Hubble photo from 2014. Hubble observes in the optical range, but sadly dust blocks visible light. Luckily, it does not block infrared light. JWST observes in the near-infrared range and hence it can see through the regions of dust that are otherwise dark to us.
Cosmic dust serves an incredible important purpose in space as it hosts star formation. It acts as a protecting cocoon around the stellar embryos as they grow to become the burning gas spheres we call stars. JWST allows us to not only look into these regions, but also doing so in a high resolution.
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